Know Your Ministers: Samuel Sipepa Nkomo

April 17, 2009

With Conrad Nyamutata

sam-sipepa-nkomoNkomo, Samuel Sipepa (MDC):
Minister of Water Resources and Development

SAMUEL Sipepa Nkomo, the Member of Parliament for Lobengula Constituency in Bulawayo, is a veteran of nationalist politics.

He joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960 and then ZAPU in 1961 becoming the party’s provincial secretary for Matebeleland. He was detained by the Ian Smith regime at Khami and Wha Wha Prisons for a total of 14 years.

He then left the country for Zambia.

Nkomo holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He says he was employed in various companies as a certified financial accountant, a financial consultant and a chartered professional manager for various blue-chip companies.

After independence he became the chief executive officer of the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF). He left the MIPF under a cloud in 2000 amid various allegations of serious corruption and fraud. The scandal was exposed by The Daily News, which had been launched only a few months earlier.

The newspaper followed an extensive paper trail and published documentation in December 1999 to support the allegations levelled against Nkomo.

He was arrested in February 2000 and appeared in court to face charges of corruption and fraud. The major charge against Nkomo was that in 1997 he corruptly awarded the tender for the management of Angwa City, a new high-rise building under construction in Harare, to his friend Trevor Carelse-Juul’s company, SBT Juul Africa.

The case was withdrawn by the state without plea, in the absence of a key witness, flamboyant businessman Carelse Juul, after he fled to South Africa.

In a twist of irony, Nkomo resurfaced in 2002 as executive chairman of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the very paper that had caused his downfall at MIPF, The Daily News.

The Daily News disappeared from the streets in December 2002, a few months after his appointment. Nkomo had refused to award members of staff a salary increase earlier agreed with the workers’ committee. Employees went on strike and The Daily News was not published for six days. In quick succession Nkomo fired the Editor-in-Chief, Geoffrey Nyarota, and then failed to register the newspaper in terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Both the dismissal and the refusal to register were without the required of authorisation of the ANZ board. Nyarota had advanced non-ANZ loans to desperate employees over Christmas after Nkomo went on holiday leaving unpaid workers on strike.

The newspaper was banned a few months later in September 2003 and has remained defunct since then. Nkomo told a meeting recently that the paper would never be published again. The newspaper was accused in government and Zanu-PF circles as being partisan on behalf of the MDC. Its printing press was bombed in January 2001. The police never investigated.

In 2005 Nkomo went into active politics with the MDC. When the party split in October 2005 Nkomo aligned with the breakaway faction led by secretary general Welshman Ncube. Nkomo was appointed the faction’s deputy director of elections. In that capacity he participated in the controversial November 2005 Senate elections, representing Tsholotsho-Hwange constituency.

He lost the election to a Zanu-PF candidate. A few months later, in April 2006, Nkomo resigned from the faction, which was now under the leadership of Prof Arthur Mutambara and rejoined the mainstream MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Nkomo whose resignation had been announced by ANZ when he left to go into politics suddenly returned to what was left of the company. He announced that he had never resigned from ANZ in the first place, adding that he was still very much in charge. In fact Nkomo had been fired by the board.

On Nkomo’s return, finance director Brian Mutsau, who was acting chief executive pending confirmation immediately resigned. This happened after he had sustained multiple stab wounds in the back on the company premises.

The state suddenly revived Nkomo’s old court case in May 2006 when he was brought to court again. He claimed in court that he had been framed by two prominent Harare businessmen to fix him for refusing to invest in their respective companies.

“The forces behind the charges are not merely police but persons with an agenda. As a principal officer I was responsible for investing the (MIPZ) pensioners’ funds. Phillip Chiyangwa and Mutumwa Mawere approached me,” Nkomo told the court.

He said Chiyangwa had wanted Nkomo to invest in his G and D Shoes, a company the flamboyant businessman had acquired in Bulawayo. Nkomo said Mawere had, on the other hand, been anxious that MIPF invest in a hospital at his Shabanie Mashava Mine. The asbestos mine was subsequently taken over by the government

Meanwhile Nkomo’s lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that it was ultra vires the constitution for the state to pursue their client’s case six years after he had been placed on remand.

Nkomo has never challenged The Daily News allegations of corruption and fraud on his part.

In March 2008 Nkomo was elected Member of Parliament representing the

Tsvangirai-led MDC in the constituency of Lobengula in Bulawayo.

In February he was appointed Minister of Water Resources and Development in the coalition government. He faces the mammoth task of restoring water supplies after years of frequent water cuts throughout the country as a result of mismanagement.

Nkomo, 63, is a father of six children, four of them with his former wife Nomagwetha. Last year a Bulawayo newspaper and a number of online publications reported that Nkomo was divorcing Nomagwetha after 35 years of marriage.

He was reported to have moved out of the family home in Harare and relocated to Bulawayo where he moved in with one Roselyn Xaba. She was reported to be divorcing her husband of 30 years, a Bulawayo businessman.

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Comments

5 Responses to “Know Your Ministers: Samuel Sipepa Nkomo”

  1. 1
    Omuhle Says:

    The MDC was aware of this man’s record when they not only welcomed him in but also gave him a constituency to represent? I don’t think he got the post at MIPF without some political benevolence and also the state washing away the court case was a bit dodgy so how did he become bed fellows with those fighting for democratic space and govt transparency.

    Mr Nyarota in his book fell short of telling us how he got into the ANZ but we got the picture, we read between the lines.
    If ever there would be a spy in the ranks……this man has establishment written all over him.

    How exactly do the MDC choose their executives? Did they get positions on the basis of donations or funding made to the party? This man is not fit for this office in my opinion. They could have done better than this, especially in choosing a returning prodigal member.

  2. 2
    omuhle kakulu Says:

    Omuhle

    you obviously do not have the intellect or the ability to know what you require to be in a position of power!! firstly in my opinion Mr Sipepa Nkomo is the right person for the job and I would like to congratulate him for this.

    He obviously has the qualities of a leader…Anyone else who thinks otherwise should check themselves and see if they fit or if they possess any qualities similar to those that Mr Nkomo has before making negative comments on him.

    By the way instead of hating on the man, why don’t you look at him and wish to live your life in a way that makes you create a name for yourself and be someone in life, similar to The honourable minister all I can say Omuhle is, “Don’t hate, congratulate”

  3. 3
    Omuhle Says:

    Whatever dude, point is the man would have gone to prison if not for Juuls disappearance to SA. He never refuted the allegations in the Daily News and the evidence was there. Receipts and other paper trails.
    You can defend all you want but just because we have opinions about the man doesn’t mean we see his unfitness for office as a sign we could do better. I don’t even know the first thing about water resources but I can tell you neither does this man you support. Then again, management is all about delegation isn’t it? Taking credit for marshalling the available resources of labour and making them do the work for you. How difficult can it be?

    The point is the man has a blemished history and this should have been flagged up before he got the role. No doubt we’ll hear more stories about some dodgy deal involving him. Mark that.

  4. 4
    Nejugwe Ndindima Says:

    I think Mr. Sam Sipepa Nkomo was playing double and was rewarded by the MDC. Zanu-PF could not be seen rewarding a person who was chairman of the Daily News but grudgingly let him serve MDC interests knowing that he would provide soft information!

    It is clear the man has a doggy past and how he escaped prosecution is anyone’s guess but history has shown that if you are on Zanu-PF’s side, the arms of the law will never get near youl.

    MDC-T beware of this man.

  5. 5
    wezhira Says:

    Who has never had ties with Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe? Don’t crucify Sipepa Nkomo on the basis of speculation. I would expect the profiler to afford him a chance to comment since he is around. I will not delve into the motives of innuendos contained therein or the tribal connotations. You wanna make a name for yourself, then earn it.

    EDITOR: There is nothing stated about Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo in this profile that he has not heard before or had an opportunity to deny, refute or comment on, going back to 1999. He chose not to. For a number of weeks in 1999 he was extremely elusive when The Daily News sought to give him his rightful opportunity to defend himself against serious allegations of corruption and fraud at the Mining Industry Pension Fund.

    His story was published on December 9, 1999, after his accomplice Trevor Carelse-Juul granted The Daily News an interview. Nkomo never challenged that story; neither did he sue the newspaper as would be expected if any falsehoods had been published about him. As for Carelse-Juul he fled from Zimbabwe on the very day that The Daily News broke the story.

    I believe if Minister Nkomo read this profile he must be grateful that so much was left unsaid. He will not take kindly to you for seeking to provoke a more intensive scrutiny of his past at this stage.

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